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WWE Royal Rumble 2018

by Scrooge McSuck

Royal Rumble 2018

- Presented on the WWE Network on January 28th from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA, home of the infamous 2015 Royal Rumble (if you don't remember, be thankful). For the first time in WWE history, not only will there be two Royal Rumble Matches, but one of them will be a 30-WOMEN Rumble. Michael Cole and Booker T are the exclusive commentators for Raw, Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton for Smackdown, with Corey Graves getting paychecks from both brands. The originally advertised match between Enzo Amore and Cedric Alexander is off due to the release of Amore for hiding the investigation behind a sexual assault charge.

Kalisto, Lince Dorado, and Gran Metalik vs. TJP, Jack Gallagher, and Drew Gulak:

Cruiserweight action, relegated to the 5:30 spot of the Kickoff Show. Saxton and Vic Joseph are calling the action for this one. Kalisto and Gulak start. "Power Point" chant from the barely-there crowd. Gulak controls in the chain-wrestling department. Kalisto hooks a modified Indian death-lock, but Gulak escapes. Gallagher and Metalik in next. Metalik with a crucifix cradle for a one-count. TJP and Dorado have the next round. Kalisto with a handspring into a spinning head scissors. Dorado with double knees across the elbow. Dorado with a jumping hurricanrana and standing moonsault for two. The Lucha Trio climb the same turnbuckle, and each hit a moonsault to all three opponents. We come back from a break, with TJP working over Dorado in the corner. Dorado's dive from the middle rope is met with a dropkick. Gallagher smashes the knees into the canvas and grabs a toe-hold. Dorado with a sunset flip on TJP for two. Gallagher with a snap mare and rake of the eyes. Gallagher and Gulak argue about going high risk, buying Dorado dime to avoid a splash. Metalik with the hot tag. He springs off the top rope and takes Gulak over with an arm drag. Metalik with a missile dropkick, followed by a rope-walk elbow drop for two. Kalisto with an enzuigiri and Dorado hits a springboard stunner. Metalik with a somersault plancha on Gallagher and Gulak. TJP with a roll-up and handful of tights, but Kalisto counters with the Salida del Sol for three at 13:16. Started slow and the lack of a full crowd kept it quiet but turned into a decent match. **1/2

Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. The Revival:

Rematch from the 25th Anniversary of Raw, where the Revival got the Ascension treatment (squashed by the legends). Anderson and Wilder start. Lockup to the corner and Anderson escapes a potential double-team. Dawson and Anderson trade blows. Crisscross and Anderson with a jumping leg lariat. Whip and the Club with a double back drop. Dawson with a blatant eye-rake to slow down Gallows. Gallows shrugs off some strikes and plants both Dawson and Wilder with slams. Whip to the ropes and Dawson pulls Wilder to safety. We come back from break, with Dawson snapping the leg of Anderson across the middle rope. Dawson with a basement dropkick to the back of the head, followed by a snap leg drop. The Revival with double-team clubbering in the corner. Dash with a step-over toe hold. Anderson keeps fighting, but Dawson continues working the leg. Anderson blocks a dragon screw leg whip with a cradle for two. Anderson boots Dawson out of the ring and Gallows gets the hot tag. He runs wild with clotheslines and hits Dash with a big boot. Gallows with a Super-Kick. They set up for the Magic Killer, but Dawson saves. Anderson with a spine-buster on Wilder for two. Gallows misses a charge, hitting the post. Dash clips the knee of Anderson, and gets three at 9:14. 50/50 booking, ladies and gentlemen. Another decent match. **1/2

WWE United States Championship Match:
Bobby Roode (c) vs. ???:

The first of Roode's GLORIOUS U.S. Open Challenges. Considering the place on the card, I wouldn't expect something too big, and sure enough, out comes Mojo Rawley. Lockup and Mojo throws Roode down. Roode back up Mojo with strikes. Whip to the corner, and Roode with a clothesline. Roode with an inverted atomic drop and Russian leg sweep for two. Mojo escapes the Glorious DDT and tosses Roode to the floor. Roode hops back on the apron, only to get knocked into the barricade. Mojo follows, knocking him back against the wall with a shoulder tackle. We come back from commercial, with Mojo still in control. Mojo with a snap mare into the chin-lock. Roode escapes with a back suplex. Mojo catches a flying body press. Roode slips out of a power-slam and hits a pair of forearms, followed by a neck breaker for two. Roode with chops in the corner and a Block Buster. Mojo counters the DDT again, but Roode still takes him over with a roll-up for two. Mojo with a spine-buster for two. Roode with a spine-buster of his own for two. Mojo sends Roode to the post, but meets a boot going for the big punch. Roode with a sloppy Glorious DDT to retain at 7:39. Basic formula, filler match. **

WWE Championship Match:
A.J. Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn:

No, this isn't a Triple Threat. It's literally Styles versus a tag team, all to further the storyline between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan that desperately needs to go somewhere to justify this odd booking. Yes, this is proper opener for the Rumble PPV. Owens and Zayn take turns tagging out to tick people off. Styles fights out of a waist-lock with a roll-up on Zayn for two. Styles stands between them, but Owen takes a lap to get in position to tag out. Crisscross and Styles hits Zayn with a dropkick. Owens with a flurry of strikes in the corner. Zayn with a whip and back drop for two. Owens follows Styles to the floor, throwing him into the barricade. Back inside, Owens with a double stomp across the chest. Styles fights out of the corner with rights. Whip to the corner, Owens meets a boot, but recovers in time to hit a sit-out face-buster for two. Owens meets the buckle going for the cannonball and sells the leg injury from last week. Styles fights out of a Tornado DDT and takes Zayn off the top with a hurricanrana. Styles with the Pele Kick on Owens. Styles counters the Helluva Kick and springs off the top into an inverted DDT. Owens with a monkey flip, but Styles catches Zayn with a hurricanrana. He traps Owens in the Calf-Crusher, but Zayn makes the save. Styles with the Phenomenal Blitz on Zayn before dumping him out. Owens recovers and rolls Styles up for two. Owens misses a charge to the corner, hitting the post. Styles blocks the Blue Thunder Bomb but gets hit from the apron with a Super-Kick. Blue Thunder Bomb connects on the second try for a near fall. Styles slips between the legs to avoid a super-plex and sweeps Zayn off the ropes. Styles nails Owens and hits Zayn with the Phenomenal Forearm, but Owens makes the save. Styles and Zayn trade forearms, with Styles getting the better of the exchange. Styles prevents a tag and tosses Zayn over the top rope. Owens in with a Super-Kick, but the Pop-Up Powerbomb is countered with a victory roll for three at 15:51 despite Zayn being the legal man. The show is off to a great start. I was skeptical, but this turned into a pretty darn good match. ****

- Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are backstage complaining to Shane McMahon about the injustice, but it falls on deaf ears. This storyline is far from over.

WWE (SD) Tag Team Championship; 2 out of 3 Falls Match:
The Usos (c) vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin:

Several weeks ago on Smackdown, Gable and Benjamin won the titles, but the decision was overturned when it was revealed the illegal men were in the ring. After complaining and boasting about being able to beat them twice, Daniel Bryan took their words to heart and made this 2 out of 3 Falls.

Fall #1: Jey and Benjamin start. Benjamin with forearms and a shoulder tackle. Gable goes to the top for the quick finish, but Jey escapes the threat. Gable and Jey trade waist-locks. Jimmy with the blind tag to save his brother, but Gable bails on a double Super-Kick. Gable with a takedown on Jimmy. Jimmy with chops in the corner. Whip is reversed and Jimmy with an uppercut for a one-count. Benjamin with the blind tag, allowing Gable to clip the knee during the confusion. Benjamin wraps the leg around the post for good measure. Back inside, Benjamin clips the knee again and applies a spinning toe-hold. Gable traps the leg and drives the knee into the canvas for two. Gable with a dragon screw leg whip. Benjamin drops an elbow and continues to wrench on the knee. Jimmy fights out of the corner, but Gable with another leg whip. Gable and Benjamin with a double high knee. Benjamin with a snap mare and knee across the face. Jimmy surprises him with a spinning enzuigiri and hot tags Jey. He runs wild with clotheslines and a super-kick to the midsection. Gable tags in but gets sent over the top with a clothesline. Jey hits Benjamin with a tope suicida and comes across the other side with one on Gable. Back inside, a flying body press on Gable gets two. Jey to the top, but Gable rolls away from the splash. Benjamin with a knee from the apron and Gable rolls him up for two. Gable with a Tiger Suplex for a near fall. Benjamin throws Jey into Jimmy and hits Paydirt for two. Gable with a moonsault to the floor on both Usos. Back inside, the twin confusion happens again, and both hit Super-Kicks. Jey to the top, and the splash on Gable gets two. The Usos go to opposite turnbuckles, but Shelton boots Jey off one, and Gable surprises Jimmy with the hanging arm-bar. The Usos with a Super-Kick party, and that's the first fall at 12:09.

Fall #2: Benjamin attacks Jey from behind and throws him shoulder-first into the post. They turn their attention to Jimmy and hit the Powerbomb/Bulldog combo on the floor. Gable with a rolling heel kick to the back of the head of Jey. They set up for the finish, but Jey cradles Benjamin for three at 13:51, taking it 2-falls-to-0. Well, that was a surprise. Match was looking like a MOTYC, but then they just went home, robbing us of what could've been based on the first fall. ***1/2

30-Man Royal Rumble Match:

We're in Philadelphia, does WWE have the balls to put Roman Reigns over, again?! Holy crap, this is coming early. They better have a miracle in them, going with the Women's Rumble last. 90-second intervals, unless a planned segment runs long. Jerry Lawler joins the commentary team for the match. #1 is Rusev and #2 is Finn Balor. In the words of Gorilla Monsoon, neither of these men will be there at the end. Rusev with a pick into the ropes for a quick attempt, but Balor lands on the apron. Rusev with a hip throw and elbow drop. Balor surprises Rusev running the ropes with a dropkick. #3 is Rhyno. He slugs it out with Rusev. Whip to the corner and Rhyno with a shoulder tackle, followed by a belly-to-belly suplex. "E-C-Dub" chant from the Philly faithful. Rusev escapes a fireman's lift and hits a spinning heel kick. #4 is Baron Corbin. He throws Balor across the ring with a Biel toss and hits Rusev with the in-and-out clothesline. Rhyno with a belly-to-belly, but the GORE is countered with Deep Six, and Rhyno is the 1st man out at 4:08. Balor tosses Corbin immediately after at 4:17. He pulls Balor out and throws him into the barricade. He pulls Rusev out, and hits End of Days. #5 is Heath Slater, and he too feels the wrath of Corbin, too, getting laid out on the ramp with a clothesline. "He's got kids!" chant for the comatose Slater. #6 is Elias, taking his sweet time getting to the ring, taking the crowd on a Walk With Elias™. He takes a shot at Slater, still laid out on the ramp. #7 is Andrade "Cien" Almas! He hits Slater too. He lays in the ropes to avoid elimination. Elias misses a charge and Almas hits a spinning elbow. Almas with the running knees into the corner. Elias avoids the Hammerlock DDT and lays him out with a clothesline. #8 is Bray Wyatt. He joins the club of attacking Slater, tossing him into the barricade. He plants Elias with a uranage. Balor saves Elias from Sister Abigail and gets laid out with a clothesline. Rusev tries getting back in, but Wyatt pounds him down. #9 is Big E. He picks Slater up and force-feeds him pancakes. Wyatt greets Big E coming in with a boot to the midsection. Big E comes back with a belly-to-belly suplex. Rusev in with a roundhouse kick to big E. Almas fights off an attempted elimination from Rusev. #10 is Tye Dillinger. I think the drawing is rigged. Turns out he isn't coming out, having been attacked by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn backstage! Sami Zayn comes out as #10 instead. One guess who he hits on the way to the ring.

#11 is Sheamus. How smart is this? He tosses in Slater, but Slater clotheslines him out at 16:28! Well, that saves him for the Tag Title Match. Happy Birthday, Sheamus. Slater's celebration is short-lived, as Wyatt hits him with Sister Abigail and tosses him at 16:56. #12 is Xavier Woods. He goes after Wyatt and joins up with Big E to lay out Zayn. #13 is Apollo Crews. Time for someone to clear the ring. Balor and Almas trade chops in the corner. Balor avoids Sister Abigail and hits Bray with a double stomp. #14 is Shinsuke Nakamura. He hits Zayn with a dropkick and lays into Wyatt with kicks. The crowd's still singing his theme music. Snap mare and jumping knee drop on Elias, followed by Good Vibrations. Zayn misses the Helluva Kick and takes the running knee to the midsection, eliminating him at 22:03. #15 is Cesaro. He runs in and kills Woods with an uppercut. Rusev lays into him with rights but can't get him over the top. #16 is Kofi Kingston. The New Day might be the worst trio to not do anything in Rumbles. Cesaro kills him coming in with an uppercut. Crews misses a charge and gets knocked off with a forearm at 24:42. #17 is Jinder Mahal, only accompanied by one Singh. Mahal with a suplex on Woods, followed by a knee drop. Woods with a dropkick but gets pressed out at 26:12. Mahal hangs on and eliminates Big E at 26:29. #18 is Seth Rollins. He's got new tights with flame patterns. Springboard clothesline to Wyatt. Sling-blade to Elias. Rollins blocks a Sling-blade from Balor and hits him with another. Rollins monkey flips Cesaro out at 27:33. Kofi gets tossed by Mahal, but he lands on Woods with one foot, he uses a plate of pancakes from Big E to get a boost back in the ring. They act as a launching pad for Kofi, he hops in over Mahal, and knocks him out with Trouble in Paradise at 29:07. Big E and Woods throw pancakes on him to add insult to injury. Almas with the Hammerlock DDT on Kofi before tossing him out at 29:29. #19 is "Woken" Matt Hardy. He sends Elias into the turnbuckle before going face-to-face with the Eater of Pies. Rusev breaks it up, only to get double-teamed by them. Double clothesline eliminates Rusev at 30:29. They work together on Almas before getting into a slugfest with each other, and they tumble over together at 31:03. #20 is John Cena. Is this the man that's going to win the Royal Rumble? Everyone stops to watch him come in, and it's a 5-on-1 mugging! Elias takes him on by himself. Cena counters the Drift-Away, and fireman lifts Elias out at 32:29.

#21 is The Hurricane! He goes after Cena, Super-Cena vs. The Hurricane! Hurricane goes for the Chokeslam, but Cena counters and gives him the same treatment as Elias at 33:40. Well, that was fun. Hurricane slips in the pile of pancakes before taking his leave. #22 is Aiden English. I don't see him lasting much longer than Hurricane. He targets Rollins in honor of Rusev, and he's still in there, proving me wrong. #23 is ADAM COLE BAY-BAY! He takes shots at Balor and English. Balor kicks English off the top at 36:44. Almas hangs in the ropes and gets booted in the face by Cole. #24 is Randy Orton. Honestly, who remembered he was in this one? Orton hits Cole with clotheslines and a snap power-slam. Cena avoids the RKO and Almas hits him with an enzuigiri. Springboard into the RKO, and Orton tosses Almas at 38:07. #25 is Titus O'Neil and nobody cares. He teases tossing Cole, but he has more dignity than that. #26 is The Miz. He hits Rollins with the back breaker and neck breacker combo. He slips out of the AA from Cena and plants him with a sweeping DDT. It-Kicks to Rollins and Cena. Miz avoids another AA and hits a Skull Crushing Finale. Rollins with a Super-Kick. #27 is Rey Mysterio! The Philadelphia fans don't boo him out like it's 2014. Spinning head scissors to Miz. He lands kicks on Cole and takes him over with a head scissors at 42:46. West Coast Pop to Miz, followed by the 6-1-9! #28 is Roman Reigns to a heroes' welcome (sarcasm). He wipes everyone out with uppercuts. He lays into Miz with clotheslines in the corner, O'Neil can't make the save and gets tossed at 44:57. Roman tries tossing Miz, but Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel save. Roman hits them both Superman Punches. Rollins with the CURB STOMP to Miz, and Roman Powerbombs him over the top onto the Miztourage for the elimination at 45:42. Then Roman tosses Seth at 45:51 because he's a dick and it's every man for himself. #29 is Goldust, entering his 12th Rumble for 2nd-all time. He hits Orton with an inverted atomic drop and uppercut but can't get him out. Goldust with more of the same for Cena. #30 is Dolph Ziggler, rounding out the field.

Ziggler makes the slowest walk to the ring in Rumble history. He goes after Cena and lays into him with rights. Cena blocks the Super-Kick. Dolph avoids the AA and hits another Super-Kick. Super-Kick to Orton. Goldust catches him with a snap powerslam, but Dolph turns the tables and dumps him out at 48:56. Dolph with the Zig-Zag on Nakamura. He tunes up the band, but Shinsuke blocks and tosses him the top with the reverse Exploder, with Balor hitting a forearm to finish it at 49:43. We've got Cena, Reigns, Orton, Mysterio, Balor, and Nakamura left. New school meets old, even if 4 of them are from the same age range. Cena with an AA to Balor and Mysterio hits Roman with the 6-1-9. Orton avoids a roundhouse kick from Nakamura and hits the RKO. Reigns comes back with the Superman Punch on Orton and tosses him at 51:19. Mysterio hits Cena and Reigns with a dropkick and dials up a double 6-1-9. West Coast Pop to Cena, but Balor is there to toss Mysterio at 51:36.

We get the Final Four Showdown™. Cena/Nakamura and Balor/Reigns pair-up. Crowd chants "You Both Suck" at the two likely candidates. Balor and Nakamura battle back and have their own stare-down before coming to blows. Nakamura with the running knee lift. Balor hits an enzuigiri from the apron to avoid elimination. Whip to the ropes, Nakamura with a knee and roundhouse kick. Balor rolls through a sunset flip to hit a basement dropkick. Cena and Reigns with clotheslines to lay them both out. Reigns plants Cena with a Samoan drop. Cena counters the Superman Punch with a back suplex. He goes for the Five-Knuckle Shuffle, but Balor hits him with a Sling-blade. He hits everyone with shotgun dropkicks until Nakamura catches him with a boot. Balor counters Kinshasa with a Double Stomp, and suddenly Cena tosses Balor at 57:42! BOO! Reigns and Cena double-team Nakamura like a gang of heels. Reigns and Cena battle again, trading their set-up moves. Cena counters the Spear with an AA. Nakamura from behind, but Cena fights off the Exploder. He goes for a suplex, but Nakamura counters with a knee and sets Cena on the apron. Cena misses a shoulder and Kinshasa eliminates him at 60:34! Reigns and Nakamura trade rights. Roman with the Superman Punch. Shinsuke hangs on to the top rope and hooks a hanging triangle. Roman fights out with a Powerbomb. Roman signals for the Spear, but Nakamura boots him coming in. Nakamura with a flying knee strike. He sets up for the Kinsasa, but Roman hits him with a Spear. Roman scoops him up for the deposit, but Shinsuke won't go quietly into the night. He struggles free and counters the Spear with Kinshasa before tossing Roman at 65:27 to win the title opportunity at WrestleMania! Great Rumble with a few cool surprises, mostly kept the ring from over-crowding, and featured plenty of enjoyable moments (a great final field, the Slater saga, New Day's pancake antics, Rey Mysterio's redemption, and so much more). ****1/2

Elimination Tracker:

  1. Rhyno (by Corbin)
  2. Baron Corbin (Balor)
  3. Sheamus (Slater
  4. Heath Slater (Wyatt)
  5. Sami Zayn (Nakamura)
  6. Apollo Crews (Cesaro)
  7. Xavier Woods (Mahal)
  8. Big E (Mahal)
  9. Cesaro (Rollins)
  10. Mahal (Kofi)
  11. Kofi Kingston (Almas)
  12. Rusev (Wyatt & Hardy)
  13. Matt Hardy and...
  14. Bray Wyatt
  15. Elias (Cena)
  16. The Hurricane (Cena)
  17. Aiden English (Balor)
  18. Andrade Almas (Orton)
  19. Adam Cole (Mysterio)
  20. Titus O'Neil (Reigns)
  21. The Miz (Reigns)
  22. Seth Rollins (Reigns)
  23. Goldust (Ziggler)
  24. Dolph Ziggler (Balor)
  25. Randy Orton (Reigns)
  26. Rey Mysterio (Balor)
  27. Finn Balor (Cena)
  28. John Cena (Nakamura)
  29. Roman Reigns (Nakamura)

- Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon celebrate Shinsuke Nakamura winning the Royal Rumble, rubbing it in the face of Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon.

- Highlights from the KFC Colonel Rumble to cool us down because this has been a great show. Col. Ric Flair ended up being the last Colonel standing, for those wondering (Editor's Note: while re-creating the spot that won him the 1992 Rumble).

WWE (Raw) Tag Team Championship Match: Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan (c) vs. The Bar:

Dean Ambrose's injury left quite a void in the mid-card. The Jordan heel turn is coming sooner than later. Rollins and Cesaro start. Cesaro pounds away on the back and hooks an arm-bar. Rollins counters with a snap mare and takes Cesaro over with a pair of deep arm drags. Rollins with a hurricanrana and dropkick, sending Cesaro to the corner for a breather. Sheamus tries his luck, but Rollins remains in control. The Bar trap Rollins in the corner for a double mudhole stomping. Rollins surprises Sheamus with an enzuigiri but can't get to his corner. Rollins teases another tag, but Cesaro pulls Jordan off the apron and sends him to the post. Rollins dumps Sheamus and takes out the Bar with a tope suicida. Rollins turns his back on the match and pays for it. Sheamus with a flying clothesline for two. Cesaro with a running uppercut for two. The Bar with a double clothesline and Sheamus comes off the ropes with a knee across the chest. Rollins fights out of the prison of the ropes but gets laid out with a clothesline from Cesaro. They hit the Demolition Decapitation for two. Sheamus with a knee to the face for two. Double back breaker for two. Rollins tries, but can't fight out of the corner. Sheamus meets the post on a charge, and Cesaro gets dumped as well. Jordan is STILL selling on the floor. Rollins with a sling-blade and Block Buster on Cesaro. Cesaro counters a Falcon Arrow but gets rolled up for two. Falcon Arrow on attempt #2 for two. Super-Kick for two. Sheamus with strikes in the corner. Rollins fights off White Noise and hip throws Cesaro in from the apron. Rollins with a Frog Splash to both men, but no cover. Jordan returns from the dead but quickly tags back out, faking an injury (but legit injured coming into the show). Rollins fights the 2-on-1 for as long as he can. Sheamus with the blind tag, hitting the Brogue Kick. Assisted White Noise finishes at 12:47, giving Sheamus and Cesaro the Tag Titles for a 4th-time. Not much heat from the exhausted crowd, but good work all around. ***1/4

WWE Universal Championship Match:
Brock Lesnar (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane:

This will either be a car-wreck brawl or a complete dumpster fire. Does anyone think the outcome will be anything but "Lesnar pins Kane"? Brock goes for Kane, but Strowman sandwiches them in the corner. Strowman with a rough knee to Brock, visibly pissing the guy off. Strowman with a shotgun dropkick on Brock (should it be renamed a Canon Dropkick?). Brock comes back and scoops him up for the F-5, but Kane plants Brock with the Chokeslam. Braun bulldozes Kane into the corner and lands a pair of headbutts. Kane with the goozle, but here's Brock hitting Kane with a chair. Braun blocks a swing of the chair with his hand and tosses Brock over the top rope. Braun tosses him into the barricade for good measure, then hits everything walking with the ring steps. He pulls out two tables to really get the Philadelphia crowd excited, setting them up in opposite corners. Kane and Strowman do the double choke, with Braun getting the best of him, hitting a chokeslam for two. Brock comes back with a trio of Germans on Strowman. Braun is back up, and puts him through a table with the Powerslam, but Kane breaks the cover. He scoops up Kane, but Kane escapes and throws Braun into the table. The spot looked so bad, Michael Cole covers for it. Kane with the chokeslam, but Brock saves. Brock hits Kane with the F5 and Braun saves with a German Suplex.

To the floor, Brock gets sent into the barricade, again. Braun undresses a table for maximum carnage. Brock isn't having any of it and puts Braun through the table with an F-5. Brock takes the English announcers table and pushes it on top of Braun. Kane grabs Lesnar for a Chokeslam, but Brock counters and puts him through ANOTHER table with an F-5. Braun escapes the prison of the toppled table, looking more pissed than injured, and lays Brock out. Back inside, Braun scoops Brock up and hits a Powerslam, but Brock won't stay down. Braun with another Powerslam. Kane with a chair across the back of Strowman, sending him to the floor. Kane scoops Brock up for the Tombstone, but Brock escapes and hits the F-5 onto a chair to retain the Universal Title at 10:59. If King of the Monsters became a real-life thing, this was it. ***3/4

- Promo for the HBO documentary on the life of Andre the Giant, coming this April.

30-Woman Royal Rumble Match:

Reigning champions Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair aren't advertised for the match, and 17 names advertised. All the main roster Women are listed except for Paige (out permanently) and Alicia Fox (broken tailbone), meaning we have 13 surprises, mostly NXT one-shots. Stephanie McMahon joins the commentary team (because God help us) and Maria Menounos is doing the ring announcing. I think a retired Women's wrestler would've served better for the spot, but D-list celebrities are always WWE's bread and butter.

#1 is Sasha Banks and #2 is Becky Lynch. So much for my pick. Lockup and Becky grabs a side headlock. Crisscross and they tease eliminations. Becky avoids a Back-Stabber and after another crisscross, takes Sasha over with a pair of arm drags. They trade submission attempts, with neither successful. Double clothesline puts both down. #3 is Sarah Logan. She puts the boots to Becky and hits Sasha with a dropkick. She tries tossing Lynch, but Sasha saves. Whip and Logan with a body press into a headbutt. #4 is Mandy Rose (with Paige's music). She throws Banks across the ring with a hip toss. Rose with a double leg-pick to try and eliminate Banks. Rose comes off the ropes with a running high knee. Banks staves off elimination, again. #5 is LITA! There's our first surprise. Becky and Sasha don't know what to do. They both hit her with a boot, but Lita fights them off and comes off the ropes with a double clothesline. Rose attacks from behind. Lita takes her over with a monkey flip and pounds away. Logan ends up on the apron but hangs on. Rose avoids a shoulder, driving a knee into the side of the head, but she celebrates too long, and Lita pushes her off at 7:17. #6 is Kairi Sane, the winner of the Mae Young Classic. She hits Logan with an axe-handle chop, and spears both Lynch and Banks. She walks the plank and hits Lita with a sliding forearm. Sane to the top rope for a big forearm to Logan. She sweeps the legs of Banks and hits a modified Block Buster. Sane to the top again, hitting the Sailing Seas Elbow. #7 is Tamina, wearing all white. She hits everyone with Super-Kicks. Lita plants her with a DDT, then hits Banks and Lynch with a Twist of Fate. She goes to the top rope and hits them with a moonsault. Tamina charges and goes flying over and out at 10:53. Becky from behind to dump Lita at 10:55. #8 is Dana Brooke, and nobody cares. Becky gets the better of a slugfest, but Brooke escapes elimination and hits a clothsline. Handspring elbow in the corner to Sasha, followed by a dropkick to Logan. She shoves Sane off the top, eliminating her at 12:23. #9 is Torrie Wilson, our second "old school" surprise. She hits Brooke with the X-Factor. Whip and a clothesline to Banks in the corner. Logan traps her in the corner, but Banks keeps saving people. Brooke charges and Torrie dumps her out at 14:14. #10 is Sonya Deville. She attacks Sasha with a flurry of strikes. Becky gets thrown over but hangs on to the ropes. Torrie gets tossed over the top and booted out at 15:46.

#11 is Liv Morgan. She makes the save for stable-mate Logan, putting the boots to Lynch. She counters a head scissors from Banks, slamming her face-first t the canvas. Logan and Morgan try to toss Sasha, unsuccessfully. #12 is Molly Holly! SHE LIED TO US ON SOCIAL MEDIA! She takes Becky over with a snap suplex and tosses Logan at 18:02. She boots Sasha out of the corner and comes off the top with the Molly-go-Round! Sonya with a jumping heel kick to slow her momentum. Becky with an Exploder on Deville. #13 is Lana. The crowd greets her with "Rusev Day" chants. Morgan and Deville attack her coming in. Lana slaps the taste out of Deville's mouth and takes Morgan down for a catfight. #14 is Michelle McCool! She knocks Lana on her butt with a big boot. Running hip attacks to Morgan and Deville. She dumps Sonya at 21:14, then Morgan at 21:19. Molly from behind with an axe-handle. She scoops up and tosses Holly at 21:38. There goes Lana at 21:52. #15 is Ruby Riott. McCool quickly goes for an elimination, but Ruby hangs on. Sasha tries, and she too is unsuccessful. Riott with a leg sweep on Lynch. Sasha suplexes McCool over the top, to the apron. #16 is Vicki Guerrero! YES! YES! YES! She tries to interrupt the action with her ear-piercing voice. She tries to make nice with Michelle, but the four of them work together to toss her out at 25:04. #17 is Carmella. She gets in Vicki's face, so Vicki snatches the briefcase and nails Carmella with it. #18 is Natalya. She drops her gear on Carmella, so Carmella pulls her off the apron for being a jerk. She hits McCool and Banks with Super-Kicks. Banks with a boot to the midsection, followed by an exploder. #19 is Kelly Kelly. Natalya tosses her, but she hangs on. She takes McCool over with a spinning head scissors, and Natalya tosses McCool at 29:00. #20 is Naomi. Naomi with a head scissors on Natalya, followed by a series of Rear-Views. Becky sweeps her off the ropes and hits a missile dropkick. Riott tosses Becky over, and bites her hands to force her out at 30:56.

#21 is Jacqueline. Does she ever age?! She lays out Carmella with a clothesline. Leg sweep and ground n' pound on Banks. Kelly Kelly hangs on to the ropes like a spider monkey. #22 is Nia Jax. She tosses Jacqueline at 33:03 and Kelly Kelly at 33:10. She press slams Riott onto the top turnbuckle and throws her out at 33:42. Naomi with the jumping-in-place kicks. The head scissors is blocked and she goes flying onto the pile of women, but they save her and put her on the barricade. #23 is Ember Moon, selling the arm from last night's Takeover. She lays into Jax and springs off the ropes with a side kick. Jax tosses her across the ring by her hair. Meanwhile, Naomi tight-rope walks the barricade and kidnaps a nearby chair for the combination pogo pump and hand-walk to the steps. Kofi's spots are now nostalgic. Naomi comes off the top, but Jax catches her and throws her out at 36:21. #24 is Beth Phoenix. She goes face-to-face with Jax. Jax with the pie-face, so Beth throws forearms. Jax misses a charge. Phoenix goes for a fireman's lift, but Jax escapes. She gets Jax up on the second attempt and walks her to the ropes. Jax escapes again, but here's Natalya back from her coffee break. They hit a double shoulder tackle, knocking Nia through the ropes. They share a hug, but Natalya slaps her and sends her packing at 38:58. #25 is Asuka. Carmella runs like hell. She hip tosses Banks into a knee strike. Carmella attacks from behind and gets hit with the running hip attack. Moon and Asuka rekindle their NXT rivalry. Moon with a head scissors and the Eclipse! Moon charges but gets sent over the top and Asuka snaps the injured arm across the rope for the elimination at 40:51. #26 is Mickie James. She comes in with a seated splash on Asuka. Natalya avoids the spinning head scissors but gets taken down with a neck breaker. #27 is Nikki Bella. She drives a knee to the face of Carmella. Sasha meets an elbow and Nikki springs off the ropes with a roundhouse kick. Spear to Natalya. Crowd does the sing-along of John Cena's theme music. Carmella mocks Cena and hits a Bronco Buster. Carmella hops on her shoulders and gets tossed for it at 44:09. #28 is Brie Bella to save her sister from the 4-on-1 attack. She lays into everyone with strikes and hits running knees. Nia Jax returns from the dead, only to get knocked back down with a double dropkick. Double suplex to Natalya. #29 is Bayley. She snaps both Bellas across the middle rope. Natalya meets the elbow and Bayley comes off the second rope with a diving elbow. Back suplex to Mickie. Bayley-to-Belly is blocked by Asuka and she gets laid out with a spinning heel kick. #30 is TRISH STRATUS!

She takes Natalya down with a Thesz Press and throws elbows at everyone walking. She lays into Nikki and Brie with chops and hits a double Stratusfaction. Bayley greets her with a boot, but Trish no-sells and takes her off the top with a hurricanrana. Trish and Mickie have at it for old time's sake. Mickie blocks the head scissiors (without the rude gesture), but the Chick Kick eliminates her at 49:34. Nia lays out Trish. Everyone attacks Nia, but she does the MONSTER ROAR spot. Asuka and Trish with roundhouse kicks. Brie and Nikki with a suplex from the apron, and everyone else picks up the load from behind to toss Nia at 50:34. Sasha tosses Bayley at 50:55. Natalya sweeps the legs of Trish and traps her in the Sharpshooter. Trish rolls through, slamming Natalya's head against the canvas. Natalya goes over and the Chick Kick finishes her at 52:22. Trish mocks Sasha and gets tossed for it at 52:52. Asuka taunts Banks next as the crowd chants "Asuka's gonna' kill you." Sasha, Brie, and Nikki put the boots to Asuka. Sasha trash talks and goes for the double knees, but Brie and Nikki toss her at 54:48. Asuka hangs on to avoid elimination. She lays into the Bella's with Yes-Kicks. Brie goes over, hanging on to the top rope. Nikki with the Torture Rack 2.0 before pushes Brie off the apron at 56:27. Asuka surprises Nikki with a shoulder to the midsection. Asuka with a missile dropkick. Nikki comes back with the Disaster Kick. She fireman lift's Asuka over the top. Nikki with a forearm, but Asuka continues to hang on. Asuka with a kick, and she head scissors Nikki backwards over the top to the apron. Nikki drops her with a forearm, but Asuka kicks her from her back, knocking Nikki out for the final elimination at 58:59. Before Asuka can declare what title she wants to challenge, RONDA ROUSEY makes her not-so-surprise appearance after trying to work Social Media. BUNCH OF LYING SCUM. Good match that had a few iffy participants with spotty work, but they put together a better than average Rumble and everyone worked hard. ****

Elimination Tracker:

  1. Mandy Rose (Lita)
  2. Tamina (Lita)
  3. Lita (Lynch)
  4. Kairi Sane (Brooke)
  5. Dana Brooke (Torrie)
  6. Torrie Wilson (Sonya)
  7. Sarah Logan (Holly)
  8. Sonya Deville (McCool)
  9. Liv Morgan (McCool)
  10. Molly Holly (McCool)
  11. Lana (McCool)
  12. Vicki Guerrero (Banks, Lynch, McCool, Riott)
  13. Michelle McCool (Natalya)
  14. Becky Lynch (Riott)
  15. Jacqueline (Jax)
  16. Kelly Kelly (Jax)
  17. Ruby Riott (Jax)
  18. Naomi (Jax)
  19. Beth Phoenix (Natalya)
  20. Ember Moon (Asuka)
  21. Carmella (Nikki Bella)
  22. Mickie James (Trish)
  23. Nia Jax (Trish, Brie, Nikki, Bayley, Sasha, Asuka, Natalya)
  24. Bayley (Banks)
  25. Natalya (Trish)
  26. Trish Stratus (Banks)
  27. Sasha Banks (Nikki & Brie)
  28. Brie Bella (Nikki)
  29. Nikki Bella (Asuka)

Final Thoughts: Topping a Takeover is no easy feat, and while nothing was a 5-star instant classic, there wasn't one bad match on this show. Two great rumbles, and a strong undercard made for an enjoyable night, and not once did I go "well, this show is just too damn long." I don't think expectations were too high coming in, and for once, the main roster show over-delivered. Strong Recommendation to check out a replay if you missed it live.

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